Singapore exports fall most in three years as China shipments slip

An aerial view of shipping containers stacked at the port of Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell 15.9% year-on-year in May, the biggest decline since March 2016, partly due to a sharp decline in shipments to China, official data showed on Monday.

The drop was slightly smaller than the 16.5% decline predicted by economists in a Reuters poll, but more than the 10% fall seen in April as the city-state's economy continues to struggle amid weak global growth.

Jeff Ng, economist at Continuum Economics, noted that Singapore mostly exports finished products to China, and presently Chinese demand for such products was low.

On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, exports grew 6.2%, accelerating from the 0.6% decline the month before, data from the trade agency Enterprise Singapore showed.

This was better than the 4.9% increase predicted by economists.

Last month Singapore cut its 2019 economic growth forecast to 1.5%-2.5% after expansion fell to its lowest in a decade in the first quarter, hit by a contraction in manufacturing in the wake of the China-U.S. trade dispute.

"(Trade tensions) certainly affected confidence. It's not necessarily the main determinant of weaker growth, but it has affected businesses confidence," Ng said.



(Reporting by Fathin Ungku and Joe Brock; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)